Category Archives for Mulberry Mama

Your inner child influences the way you parent

A mother shares how her relationship with her daughter changed for the better when she allowed her own inner child to flourish.

Mother and child walking in autumn park

By Janine Emerson

I first stumbled across this concept of the inner child when I was twenty years old. I bought some tarot cards named Inner Child Tarot which are based on fairy tales and fables. They had an innocent quality to them and helped me to see the magic and wonder in much of life’s predicaments; also the initiation and growth that come from these predicaments.

I can’t say that I fully understood the inner child concept until much later. So much later, in fact, that it has only been the past two or three years where I have delved into this aspect of myself to heal deep wounds and remove some unhealthy patterning.

Who is our 'inner child'?

I have come to understand though that our inner child is that innocent and creative aspect of ourselves that keeps us curious and in wonderment of the world around us. I have felt that our inner child is also our soul aspect – or a part of our soul – that wishes for us to live our true potential and life purpose.

Mother with daughter in autumn park

I thought I was living a happy life and reaching my true potential. I thought that I was content and on a path and a pretty well-rounded human being; until I heard a little voice deep inside telling me something different.

When I had my daughter – who is now 7 years old – life changed dramatically. I had anxiety, a lot. Like most parents, I felt overwhelmed with this massive responsibility of caring for a tiny human. I couldn’t cope well with her crying or strong-willed behaviour. I didn’t want to say ‘no’ in case she got upset, because I don’t do so well with confrontation. But I felt with every demand she would make, made me resentful. Sometimes I would even throw a mini tantrum of my own!

So, here is a thirty-six-year-old, well-rounded healthy adult throwing a tantrum! I had to stop and think about this. No, I actually had to stop and feel into this. What was this behaviour?

And then it became clear.

That little girl inside me needed to be heard.

She needed to be loved and held and accepted unconditionally. My wounded inner child was affecting my parenting and my relationship with my daughter.

Silhouette of mother and daughter in the gym

Because that little girl in me was not shown how to deal with confrontation or strong emotional reactions, then this now meant that the adult ‘me’ had no previous experience or teachings on how to support my daughter. The adult ‘me’ became reactive and disconnected. The adult 'me' withdrew and was afraid to connect emotionally. The adult 'me' was harbouring an inner child that was triggered by the experiences my own daughter was going through.

My inner child was loudly saying ‘acknowledge me’!

So I did. I took the necessary steps required to acknowledge that little girl inside of me that was still crying from the lack of emotional intimacy she had with her own parents, or the feelings of abandonment and being misjudged.

I started to care for my inner child in a way that my parents hadn’t. I started to show her how it felt to be accepted, to be held, and modelled how to cope with strong emotions. And in doing so, I set her free.

The change was almost instant

In acknowledging my inner child, my relationship with my daughter has changed dramatically. I now can be a solid support for her when she is emotionally overwhelmed and not feel like I have to say ‘stop crying’ or disconnect from her experience. I can stay present and loving and hold her in that space.

If my daughter is being demanding, I can give her boundaries now without becoming over-reactive.

mother and children playing with flour

Rediscovering playfulness

I made a vow to my inner child that I would become more playful again, and this has meant I now play more with my daughter. We laugh together, make silly faces, dance around the house, become curious watching little crawly bugs and ponder on the workings of life.

I found meditations a helpful way of accessing and listening to my inner child as well as seeing a therapist who could hold me in a safe space to go deeper into my process.

As adults, when we remember to acknowledge our inner child - that aspect of ourselves that wishes to have a creative life full of wonderment and curiosity - then the child in us stays with us. When nourished and healed, that inner child will remember their own happiness and innocence, and we can be more present as parents.

So, start playing, be silly, laugh and dance and give yourself the biggest hug – your inner child will love it.

Janine Emerson

Janine Emerson

Contributor

Janine grew up amongst the rolling green hills of the Northern Rivers of NSW, where she still resides with her 7 year old daughter. She and her daughter started the journey of home education this year and the results are incredible. Janine is a practicing qualified herbalist and finds joy in making medicines in her home apothecary, as well as exploring the complex nature of human health and how we are innately connected to nature and our surrounds. She's on Instagram at @wildblendsco.

If I knew then what I know now…

An Australian mum who has been homeschooling for eight years reflects on what her concerns were early on in her journey and what life without school looks like for her children now.

Girl taking photo of beach

By Rachel Parkinson

We started on this home educating journey eight years ago. At the time I had a shy six-year-old, a bouncy four-year-old and a chubby baby boy of eight months. Looking back, life was simple. My oldest loved to read, and being at home gave her the freedom to read widely. The other two were happy to buzz around, play, go to the park or just do whatever.

Taking the leap

We left the formal education system during April’s grade one year. It was a lot like jumping off a cliff. There was a lot of fear associated with taking that leap. There were a lot of unknowns and a lot of what ifs.

I was one of those mothers who never got used to “the system”. I thought I would, as everyone told me I would. I did think that talking with the school and having meeting after meeting might all lead to some happy solutions, but alas, no.

The theory was, to try home educating for a term and see how we went. If it didn’t work, we could find another school. As that one term came to a close we were having such a lovely time with it that we didn’t even consider another school.

Now that the little grade one child is almost 15, I realise that there would never be another school and that it was the system itself that we had a problem with.

There was quite a lot that I worried about at the time, but now I see how those things have panned out. Some of my major concerns were around making friends, learning, getting time to myself, what they might be missing out on and how they were going to turn out as people.

They will make friends at all ages and stages of life

They may not be a kid of the same age. They may be a grandparent or another grown-up or someone who is way older or younger than them. Friendships happen through commonality, not necessarily because you are the same age.

They will learn

Learning happens in so many ways. The notion that kids learn only when sitting in a classroom or when a qualified teacher is with them has slipped away. Having gone to school ourselves, we are heavily indoctrinated that this is the case. Changing our own beliefs around this is the first step.

Learning happens everywhere

Where you least expect it. Car conversations, chance meetings, quiet time alone, reading… not just in a classroom. Interests are ignited and fed. Dreams are born.

They aren’t missing out

They really aren’t. Well, actually they are missing out on the rushing, the lining up, the forced curriculum, the Naplan testing. You get the picture.

Time alone to pursue your own interests comes eventually

If you need it to come sooner, there is always a way. If you ask it of them, they will learn to give you the space you need.

It’s so worth it

Even for the sacrifices you have to make. The relationship with your kids will be the reward. The gift.

I don’t feel I am their teacher. I facilitate their learning. At times I teach them things. Other times I stand back and let them figure something out, or I stand aside and bring in an expert.

Those precious days when they are little are so fleeting. If I could go back I would stress less and play more. Go on walks, beach trips and bake and just drink in their curiosity.

We have a groove now

I was concerned that being with them all the time could drive me batty. At times, yes it has. But, as humans to hang out with, I enjoy the company of my children. Over all this time we have moulded and melted into a group/team/thing that chugs along at learning, discovering, eating, playing, sleeping, working.

What I try to tell myself now as they get older is that swimming against the tide is hard, we all get worn away by the constant ebbing of water when we are the minority. But, there is a plan for my girls, and their life will unfold, regardless of what I do or say, regardless of their music lessons or art classes, and the beauty of their curiosity will have flourished.

What were your worries early on in your home educating journey?​ Share in the comments below.

Rachel Parkinson

Rachel Parkinson

Contributor

Rachel is a mother to four children. She lives on the beautiful coast of southern Australia and spends her days home educating her family, cooking, gardening and adventuring. She's on Instagram @rachel_parkinson.

Find your tribe: The importance of community for a homeschooling mother

When you're at home with the kids all day, and things start to take a spiral downward (it's always around 3pm!) it's easy to feel alone. It's actually in these moments that reaching out to your homeschooling community is so important.

By Barb Somervaille

Community. Camaraderie. Collaboration. Connection.

We all want to belong and feel understood. To know we are not alone.

It is so reassuring to meet other wholehearted mothers who share this home schooling road. Fellow companions for the journey. It is good to gather together in a caring, compassionate environment and be reassured we are not the only (crazy) ones living this marvellous home schooling life.

So many naysayers tsk about that question for our children.

“What about socialisation?”

Have you ever wondered about socialisation for the mother?

It does get lonely sometimes. We cannot commit to regular coffee mornings, Bible studies or playgroups on weekdays.

But I’ll let you in on a secret… We do get to have fun, too, you know. You can belong to a special group.

There have been times when I am surrounded by other mothers, yet feel alone. As I drive past mummies chatting in groups gathered at the school gate, in the playground or at church.

There are few who send their children to school who “get it”. Who can relate to the particular challenges and victories we encounter as we choose this lifestyle.

There is a specific need of encouragement for homeschooling mothers.

A special community has come alive through the pages of Mulberry Magazine.

We need to meet up in person. To connect in “real” life – not just online.

A support group can be something special to create a sense of community on a small local scale.

A couple of us started meeting together in Toowoomba one evening a month and now, 20 years later, we have a wide network of connection for Christian families in South East Queensland.

We have organised excursions for all ages and stages. We plan play-in-the-park meet ups which are a great way to welcome new families and a neutral place to meet newcomers expressing interest in homeschooling. We’ve had concerts, awards nights, graduation ceremonies and sports days.

We also have a wonderful network connecting mums together in smaller groups. We open our hearts and meet in a welcoming home to encourage one another.

A support group is supportive. We hold each other up. We cheer one another on and we pray for each other. We share the blessings and we share the struggles. We share resources. Especially books!

And sometimes we nibble chocolate and sip hot tea in a fine china teacup.

What are your needs?

  • Do you long to meet with other mums in a small evening group without the children? To have a cuppa and good conversation without interruption?
  • Would you like to meet mothers with young children to play in a park one morning a month so your children can be included in meeting new friends too?
  • Perhaps you would like a group based on specific learning styles such as classical education or Charlotte Mason’s method. Or you might wish to gather with fellow natural learners!
  • Maybe you want to start a co-op? Sharing skills and teaching resources occasionally to supplement your studies at home with older teens?

The best way to start a group is to find just one like-minded friend and ….start!

Set aside a time and place. The same goes for excursions. Decide on an activity your family really wants to do. Spread the word, invite others and even if only you and your friend show up, you will have an encouraging time that is worth the effort.

It will grow and expand into something special as you care for each other. Prayer and practical help in times of illness or family crisis. Meals for mothers with a new baby or for a family moving house.

It is a relief to share struggles in a safe environment where we won’t be placated with the short sighted advice to “just send them to school’.

And it's a space to learn together, too​

We have had input from DVDs, podcasts, book club style studies and different mothers leading discussion on topics ranging from ‘”organisation” to “what to do with pre-schoolers while you teach reading”. We have evenings where each brings a favourite resource.

One excellent resource that has been a hit with us was Sarah Mackenzie’s book “Teaching From Rest”.

Sally Clarkson is a wonderfully wise mentor through her books, such as “The Life Giving Home”, and resources from Whole Heart ministry. The annual Mum Heart Conference is based on Sally’s Mom Heart conference.

Sometimes it is wonderful to gather together for input and inspiration in a beautiful big group.

That is the vision of the annual Mum Heart Conference. It’s like a morale boosting ‘Professional Development’ weekend!

For affirmation. To feel valued and validated. To cheer each other on, laugh and just maybe cry a little as we share our stories.

We can comfort and console each other as we swap ideas and brainstorm strategies to manage this wonderful, enormous challenging and fulfilling career!

If you're interested in finding a community, I'd love you to get in touch: barb.somervaille@gmail.com

Grace profile image square

Barb Somervaille

Contributor

Barbara and her husband Andrew live in Queensland, Australia and have been busy raising and homeschooling their eight children over the past 28 years. While Barb feels like she has been homeschooling forever, she is on the home stretch now with the younger children aged 15 and 11. You can follow Barb on her blog Quiet Sonbeams.

You will never get homeschool ‘right’

With homeschooling, and parenting in general, it's easy to fall into the trap of wanting to get it 'right'. The secret is there's no one right way or right season, and that's okay.

By Liadhan Bell | outtherefamily.org

It is about eighteen years now since I first fully embraced the notion of learning at home. There have been many lumps and bumps along the way and I have learned by experience that no two children are alike. What fills one with joy fills another with dread. What one finds simple, the other deems impossible.

My theory of education can be summed up in these wise words: “Once I had no children and seven theories on how to raise them. Now I have seven children, and no theories!”

As with parenting in general, I have come to recognise the pattern - Just When You Think You Have It All Figured Out… Something Changes! There is always some new thing, or circumstance (or person, in the case of growing families!) being thrown into the mix. Nothing is static. The only thing constant and permanent is change.

I once lamented this. How on earth could I ever “get it right” if the definition of “right” kept changing?

Surely there must be some constant in this never-ending state of flux?! It took a long while, and the benefit of experience to realise that perhaps I was basing my expectations on the wrong definition of “right”. Perhaps it's not quite true that I have no theory of education. It can probably best be summed up thus:

“Birds fly, fish swim, man thinks and learns.”- John Holt

But of course, that is only the beginning of the conversation.

In my reading over the years, some things have really stood out. One of those things (I think I am correct in attributing to Dr’s Raymond and Dorothy Moore) is the concept of the Integrated Maturity Level, or IML.

Integrated Maturity Level

Simply put, the IML is the time in a child’s overall development at which their senses, fine motor skills and cognitive function are optimal for them to be capable of the abstract thought processes and manual coordination needed to master basic academic skills. (sorry… did I say simply put?) 🙂

One way to test if your child has attained this degree of readiness is if they are able to tie their shoelaces with their eyes closed, while counting backwards from 10. With this in mind, it should come as no surprise that the average age this is attained is not 5, 6 or even 7. It is generally not reached until the age of 8 or 10, and in many cases, even older.

Until this time, the Moore’s and other’s research indicates that it is not only counterproductive but actually harmful to put a child under pressure to perform academically. Their highly readable book, Better Late than Early covers this well, and also provides parents with plenty of ideas of what activities children might most benefit from and enjoy in the years before they are ready for formal academics. They have also outlined further research, in School Can Wait. Another voice on this subject in more recent times is research professor of psychology Peter Gray.

The farming analogy

Another favourite anecdote which made a lasting impression on me likens the learning process with its differing educational approaches of Starting Early vs. Waiting for Readiness to two farmers who wanted to build a fence at the end of winter.

The first farmer, impatient to see results, was out day after day chipping away at the icy ground, digging post holes. Slowly, over many weeks, with much hard work, he got the holes dug. His neighbour waited until the day the ground thawed, then he went out and dug all his post holes in one day. This powerful little analogy has always come back to me at times when I have felt pressured to ignore the wisdom of waiting.

So how does all this translate into our real life, here and now?

In our life learning journey, I have swung between living awestruck at the way my children are unfolding and growing before my eyes, and succumbing to the desire to recreate the artificial sense of security that comes from an outward structure with measurable results. For most of us, this is how ‘success’ has been measured since we were big enough to hold a pencil.

But, as system after system I cleverly devised proved imperfect, I began to grow suspicious that perhaps there was no perfect system… As the years rolled by, peppered with ‘Aha!’ moments, I saw that undue pressure on my children produced resistance and discouragement, yet help and encouragement at the right time gave momentum to the inner drive to know and to succeed that children naturally possess.

I began to question my own motives. Would I quiz a kid (even ‘playfully’) on how to drive a car the same way I was secretly fond of quizzing them (‘playfully, of course!) on questions of basic mental arithmetic? The answer was obvious.

Why would I quiz a kid on something that:

a) they were not developmentally ready to do, and

b) they had no immediate practical use for?

How often, I wonder, is it our undue emphasis on things children cannot yet understand that creates anxiety in them, blocking their ability to learn, leading to discouragement, and worse still, to avoidance and apathy?

The opportunity to succeed at anything and the confidence this builds is so much more important than any artificially imposed timetable of skills and abilities. We hear it over and over “Every child is different”- but often we are not prepared to let them be too different if it challenges the generally accepted definition of ‘normal’ - or our own ambitions for our children to be exceptional.

Learning to ride a bike

Three of my daughters learned to ride bicycles just shy of their fifth birthdays. When I told one of them that I wasn’t able to ride until I was six, she quoted my own favourite encouragement for when they are learning a new skill. “Don’t worry Mum. People learn things at different times.”

Learning to read

On the other hand, I have no memory of learning to read. All I know is that I could read before I started school. One of my children has begun to decode words with apparently little effort. Her interest in being able to read is inconsistent and self-initiated, but noticeably gaining momentum as she sees that she can.

Another of them is not yet ready to read anything beyond individual letters, and her own and her siblings' names (which she learned in a burst of enthusiasm a couple of years back!).

Learning to tie shoelaces

But when she wanted to learn how to tie her shoes recently it only took a few attempts before she had it. She was ready! (and had the added motivation of a very fancy pair of lace up sneakers!)

I, however, was one of those poor, hapless kids who was still struggling to tie my own laces at her age, after a couple of years of trying. Every child is different.

So… our future may not be mapped out in convenient compartments of What to Do When, and our present days may not fit into a box. But one thing is certain - we are all constantly learning and changing and growing. It’s what people do.

These children are amazing! They are brimful of creative ideas, little pearls of wisdom, and the joie de vivre. They put their minds to things and work hard to make those things happen. When they reach their goals, they take pride in their achievements. And so do we. They're gaining the confidence that comes when you succeed in an endeavour of your own making. They ride bicycles too. And tie shoelaces. And they will read. All in good time.

This article originally appeared on outtherefamily.org and has been republished with permission.

How do you manage the pressure to 'get it right' or have a perfect homeschool routine with the knowledge that the joy is in the ever-changing journey? Comment below.

Liadhan Bell profile photo

Liadhan Bell

Contributor

Liadhan Bell learns with and from her seven children and sometimes finds time to write about it. She is fascinated by the creative synergy that occurs when a family live and learn together. She writes about life learning, travel and adventure, nature play and their wobbly attempts at self sufficiency at @outtherefamily.org and on Instagram @out_there_family.

One thing homeschooling has taught me

As we homeschool our children we are learning constantly alongside them. Jessica Pilton reflects on what homeschooling has taught her so far.

By Jessica Pilton | jessicapilton.com

If there is one thing homeschooling has taught me, it's that we do it for relationship.

Relationships with our children, relationships within our family unit and relationship with this big wide world.

The other day I went through a plethora of my old learning portfolios from when I attended primary school here in Australia. I found an art journal from when I was in kindergarten (cue the nostalgia).

After flicking though the pages, smiling fondly from the memories and paint splattered pages I turned my gaze to portfolio’s from other grades underneath. I found grade 1 worksheets full of concepts that my six year old self probably wouldn’t have understood. I remember colouring in the pictures. I remember the little sight word test at the beginning of the year. I remember feeling sad when I received my paperwork back with red texter marks of ticks and crosses. Notes from the teacher on how I was doing. Assessment.

So much assessment and really not a whole lot of learning. Memories of my schooling years flooded back.

Feeling like I didn’t fit in. Feeling like school was this massive, living, breathing thing that I survived and struggled though. I remember getting up at “='show and tell' when I was 7 and lying about how I went to Italy on the school holidays. I didn’t go to Italy, but I just so badly wanted to be liked. (I distinctly remember the ‘popular girl’ going overseas and how amazing everyone thought that was).

I so badly wanted to fit in.

I didn’t grow up in the area I went to school, my parents worked full time and my Nonna raised us when we were little. I missed seeing my mum at the school gates as much as I loved Nonna being there.

There was a feeling of not really being able to learn at my own pace but having to keep up with my peers because that was what was required.

I wasn’t the most academic child. I struggled with attention. I didn’t understand concepts straight away. I was told time and time again, but not shown, which is how I learn. And this was all 20 years ago.

I’ve learned far more than I have in my twenties than when I went to school.

I don’t remember much of high school. I was either not paying attention, wagging with friends or drinking and smoking in the toilets. Yep, I was a total ‘rebel’ and I cared far more about ‘being cool’ (Oh God, I cringe at all that I did now!) than my education.

I left high school half way through year 9 or 10, I can’t remember the exact year and started working full time. Yep, at 15 I held down a full time retail job in the city to earn up enough money to study at beauty college – something that I was actually passionate about!

I’ve healed from my childhood issues. I’ve got an amazing testimony of God’s redeeming love and grace but I still wonder what would have happened if my parents were more connected and concerned about my education and my relationships.

Relationships with God, our family and friends, relationships with what we’re learning, what we love to do and how we do it is the most important thing.

Really, isn't that why we choose to homeschool?

To deepen relationship within our family unit?

To deepen relationship with what our children are learning and living and loving?

We homeschool so our children can build relationships with things that they love, things that are beautiful, things that are purposeful.

Homeschooling is not for fame, glory or a thank you.

Often our efforts will mostly be unseen. It’s a behind closed doors type of thing. The time we spend educating, providing resources, planning, attending social stuff etc etc ... It all takes up a lot of time but gosh, it’s so worth it. We mothers who homeschool know how relationships can effect a life for good or bad.

We want the good.

We want that for our kids – is this saying that schooling mamas (is that even a word?!) don’t value relationships? Absolutely not.

That being said, I think more and more families are choosing to home educate to connect further and live life how it was intended to be. Free from constant assessment and tests. Free to learn how we choose too. Slow, purposeful and out of the rat race.

Relationship is key in learning.

When we are connected, when we feel heard, when we feel like we aren’t being force fed an education... that’s when real, passionate, fiery learning takes place.

That’s one thing homeschooling has taught me.

This article originally featured on jessicapilton.com and has been republished with permission. 

What has homeschooling taught you? Share by commenting below.​

Grace profile image square

Jessica Pilton

Contributor

Jess is a wife and homeschooling mother to three. She blogs about her life homesteading on a nine-acre property in Perth, Australia, with a focus on grace-based parenting and home education. You can find Jess' writing at jessicapilton.com and on Instagram and Facebook.

How to create a homeschool rhythm

If you're struggling to keep up with all the items on your 'to do' list and feel like the kids aren't getting enough focused time to learn, maybe you need to create a homeschool rhythm.

By Jessica Pilton | jessicapilton.com

A relaxed rhythm within a family allows for adequate time for being, doing and resting – all equally important things. I have been implementing rhythms in our days for a couple of years now.

Sometimes this looks like a morning rhythm or evening rhythm, sometimes we have had only a short rhythms in our days that just focus around waking, eating and sleeping, and then seasons (like right now) where we have steady daily rhythm.

This year I’m focusing on a word for my personal growth, and the word I felt that resonated with me was “Thrive”.

Sometimes it helps to write down your focus so that you intentionally plan your rhythm around that.

I wanted to create a homeschool rhythm where each one of us could do just that, having ample opportunities to thrive and grow where we are planted in our home. Creating a family rhythm that suits everyone takes time, patience and a watchful eye as you notice the ‘breathe in and out’ of life.

What our homeschool rhythm looks like

For example, we come together in the mornings for breakfast around the table, we read a Bible passage, maybe sing a song or recite a poem and then after breakfast, we all go our separate ways for a while. It’s just how life naturally works for our family.

My two girls will get ready for our day and then begin their very important work of play. Mason will usually follow me into the garden as I tend to the patch. This is what you call a ‘breathe out’, a moment in time where children (and mama!) are exploring and playing and using outward energy.

After some time we come together again for a 'breathe in', quiet time, snuggling time with a story or poem, gentle forehead kisses and food. Alannah and I come together before the others for her lessons which are done in 30 minutes or so before circle time. After our ‘breathe in’ comes another 'breathe out'. Art, creating, baking, more playing. And so the cycle throughout the day continues…

Creating and implementing a homeschool rhythm

1. Observe

  • What is happening in your family currently?
  • How do you spend your time?
  • Can you see the visible “breathe in and out” happening throughout your day already or is this something you may need to work on?

By watching how your family already interacts and spends their days you can begin to understand what rhythm looks like and how you can tweak it to suit each person and create a more harmonious home.

2. Tweak

  • Is there anything you would like to change?
  • What would you like to add to your days?
  • Is there anything you need to remove to create a more peaceful home?
  • Where and when would you put the 'breathe in and outs' during the day?

Grab some paper and jot it down.

3. Implement

Once you have observed and tweaked your rhythm it's time to get it on paper, put it where everyone can see it and start gently implementing it in your days. Start small, introduce one thing at a time over several weeks.

5. Embrace Change

We all have ideals we want to have in our lives – yet life can through us curve balls, sickness, travel, adding a new family member or even just having an off week. Be flexible, embrace changes – they will be inevitable! And remember your rhythm is your servant not your master.

6. Remember, you are not a slave to your family rhythm

It's there to help your family have more intention, connection, peace and harmony, not create discord because it isn’t being followed.

7. Something visual to remind you

I created this printable which is placed on our cupboard in the kitchen. It’s a visual reminder of our rhythm for our days. We have lived unstructured for some time last year, yet when I looked back and observed how we lived I still see a rhythm in place.

Homeschool rhythm list on the wall

Personally, my kids flourish with a flexible homeschool rhythm

We love being able to spontaneously get into nature, visit friends and family, or visit the library. We want to be able to follow when an interest strikes, so this is the rhythm our days usually march to.

Recently we included an evening rhythm with times to get our evenings running more smoothly (we haven’t had a set bedtime for about a year) as sometimes we need to re-access how and why we do things. This was the case for us, as bedtimes were blowing out and people in our family were getting grumpy and needing more sleep.

Remember things won’t always stay the same in a rhythm. Changes will happen, so try to embrace them.

Do you have a rhythm in your homeschool? Comment below, we'd love you to share.​

This article originally featured on jessicapilton.com and has been republished with permission. 

Grace profile image square

Jessica Pilton

Contributor

Jess is a wife and homeschooling mother to three. She blogs about her life homesteading on a nine-acre property in Perth, Australia, with a focus on grace-based parenting and home education. You can find Jess' writing at jessicapilton.com and on Instagram and Facebook.

Tired mama, here are 5 self-care tips you can stop and do RIGHT NOW!

Whether you work full time or part time, in an office or at home, be a stay-at-home mum or homeschool mum, it doesn’t matter - the majority of mothers tell us they don't spend enough time on themselves.

Words and images by Shannon Young, thecarefactor.com.au

Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, has two irreducible core needs. They are: love and belonging according to researcher and mother - Brene Brown.

As mothers, when you have your kids at home with you and you are the centre of their world 24/7, it can take a lot out of you. I understand - I get you. As a mum of three who also coaches mothers to improve their wellbeing, I know how important self-care is to a mother’s ability to be the best version of herself for her loved ones. I also know how tricky it can be to carve out time to go for a walk or to the gym, or curl up with a book or cup of tea or whatever when you have little ones demanding attention. There seems to be no down time - not even in the bathroom!

Whether you work full time or part time, in an office or at home, be a stay-at-home mum or homeschool mum, it doesn’t matter - the majority of mothers report that they do NOT spend enough time on themselves.

However it is important to take care of yourself and when you do - you fill those core needs of love and belonging.

So here are 5 non-standard self-care tips that you can do RIGHT NOW with the kids in the house.

1. Give (and receive) a hug

Give a 3-second hug (3 seconds or breaths at a minimum) to your loved ones instead of a pat on the head. I am a big believer in hugs.

Research shows that a proper deep hug can instantly boost oxytocin levels and serotonin levels which boost your mood and reduce loneliness. This works better for women than men as research shows that women tend to have greater reductions in blood pressure than men after their hugs.

Did you know hugs can actually help you be healthier?

The gentle pressure on the sternum from a hug and the emotional charge this creates also stimulates the thymus gland that regulates the body's production of white blood cells to boost the immune system. So hugs can help you be healthier.

Finally, hugs tell both people involved that they are invested in the relationship. Hugs boost your feeling of being loved.

2. Phone a friend

When you are sitting there with your head in your hands wondering how you can get through another hour or minute, that is the time to pick up the phone (not the email or text) and call someone who cares. We need each other and women especially gain so much from nurturing our female friendships.

Researcher Dr. Ruthellen Josselson says “Women are such a source of strength to each other. We nurture one another. And we need to have unpressured space in which we can do the special kind of talk that women do when they’re with other women. It’s a very healing experience”. I know that the conversations that I have with my female friends are like those I had in boarding school and would make most men’s skin crawl in its honesty and brashness - nothing is really out of bounds.

Phoning a friend boosts your feeling of belonging and reminds you that you are an adult, not just a big kid.

3. Boost your immunity and nourish your body

Add half a lemon to your glass of water you were having anyway. The juice of half a lemon in a glass of water is rich in vitamin C, which boosts the immune system so you fight off colds and flu better.

Also, lemons contain pectin which helps you feel full without feeling bloated so you don’t snack throughout the day which you don't have time for anyway. Show yourself that you care by taking care of your body. It's so important!

4. Stretch … while you get dressed (or pulling up your pants after the bathroom).

Incorporate stretching whenever you can. Reach that extra inch when you put on your clothes. Touch your toes when you put on your shoes. Do a mini back band while you put on your trousers or skirt. Side stretch (half moon pose) when you put on your shirt. It doesn't have to be a full sun salutation to help.

Simple stretches will warm up your muscles and dislodge any fluids in your joints that accumulated when you are sleeping overnight or sitting on the floor, leaving you more energised and standing taller.

This releasing of pent-up emotions in your body through stretching promotes a feeling of self-love and happiness.

5. Colouring WITH the kids

Colouring for adults is trendy for good reason and is a wonderful way to take care of yourself without your kids even realising you are doing something for yourself. This way they won't be knocking on the door whilst you are trying to do your yoga or just have a pee. Colouring with your kids gives you a chance to bond more closely with them.

Colouring in is a fantastic joint activity that promotes love and belonging.
Click to Tweet

Colouring for adults is active meditation and that is easier for adults to do because it is still an activity. We don’t think that we are “sitting around doing nothing”.

The three key elements of colouring —repetition, pattern and detail— prompt positive feelings in the brain according to cognitive neuroscientist, Dr Rodski. These positive feelings are because colouring relaxes the amygdala and so lowers your stress levels as you let go of everything else and concentrate. You may find that your breathing slows as well - a great self-care strategy.

So drop and give yourself FIVE.

To take care of yourself so you can be the best version of you for your loved ones. Your children look up to you and will remember more of what you do versus what you say. Teach them self-care by practicing it yourself so they fill their irreducible needs for love and belonging - best lesson ever.

Shannon Young

Wellness Coach

Shannon is a mother-of-three who is passionate about empowering and equipping tired, busy 21st century mums to slow down and practice self-care and mindfulness. Shannon has over two decades experience coaching senior leaders in iconic organisations across industries such as FMCG, IT, Finance and Consulting. You can find out more at thecarefactor.com.au

The Care Factor - Upcoming Events in NSW


Balanced Babe 3 day Retreat in July

  • A heart-centred 3 day, 2 night retreat of self-care, relaxation and discovery.
  • 21-23rd July 2017, Gymea Eco Resort, Uki, NSW
  • $890.00 {Early bird rate $667.50 if booked before 31/03/17} - Information and bookings here

I can’t promise you sandwiches cut into special shapes, but I can promise you adventure

Mum of 4 boys Sarah Cole reflects on her wonderful abilities and honest shortcomings in this open letter to her 4 sons: "I can promise you adventure."

By Sarah Cole | Multifaceted Mama

To my four sons:

Over the past 10 years, I have had many failings as a mother. There are a lot of things I am just not good at. There are promises I just can't keep.

I can’t promise to be a neat or organised mum. There are craft supplies piled up in the corner and books on most surfaces most of the time. There isn’t really a picture perfect corner of our house, despite my attempts when company comes. It’s not unusual to have to shuffle construction paper or pens and pencils over to make a place at the dinner table and the search for a pencil can sometimes take a while. Despite occasional efforts I am not, and I never will be, a “neat mum.”

I can’t promise to be things will be worthy of a page on Pinterest. I don't think to cut your sandwiches into special shapes or make creative bento boxes. I never volunteered at preschool, or remember to schedule play-dates. I don’t have clever “life hacks” or make cute crafts.

I can’t promise storybook holidays. I don't decorate much; I can’t keep up with the shelf elf; I don’t have special fun “tricks” to make little holidays special and I’m sure I let it slip that there is no Santa Claus. It’s a poorly kept secret that I don’t even actually like holidays. And the Happy Birthday banner has been hanging in our kitchen for nearly 2 years now as a monument to my spectacular failure at these kinds of things.

I can’t even promise to be a “have-it-in-any-way-together mum”. I’m not as consistent, or as on top of things, as I should be. These things have never been my strength.

But I can promise you adventure.

If you want to see something, we’ll pack our car with snacks and books and go see it. I promise to let you explore. If you want to do something, we'll figure out a way that you can do it. If you want to learn something, we'll go learn it together.

I promise not to rush you. If you want to stop in the middle of our walk and watch a caterpillar, I’ll rest my bones on the rock next to you.

I promise to say yes as much as possible.

Yes, you can run. 
Yes, you can climb.
Yes, you can get your clothes dirty.
Yes, you can walk in the creek with your new shoes on.
Yes, you can touch that frog or cricket and catch that fish (as long as you're gentle).

While I won’t be waking you up to rush you off to school, I may take you to the river to watch the sunrise. Our home might not be perfectly decorated but, I’ll promise you we'll see some art-worthy views. You may never have a football trophy, but I’ll proudly display the treasures from your pockets on the windowsill.

Perhaps we may not have cookie cutter sandwiches, but I’ll pack a little peanut butter and some bread and we can stay outside until the sun sets.

I can't promise you it will all be picture perfect, but I can promise we'll take pictures. And I know we'll find beauty wherever we go.

This article originally appeared on amultifacetedmama.com and has been republished here with permission.








Grace profile image square

Sarah Cole

Blogger

After working full time and part time for the past 10 years Sarah abruptly quit her jobs to stay at home and homeschool her 4 boys ages 10, 8, 3 and 1. Sarah writes about her parenting and homeschooling journey when she can catch a few minutes on her blog Multifaceted Mama and shares her adventures on Instagram @multifacetedmama. She lives in Virginia, USA.

Mama, you are enough.

Words and images by Andrea Sunshine, andreasunshine.com

Parenting is amazing and amazingly messy all at the same time. Our society is not set up to support parents to nurture their children, only to increase its capitalistic intentions. So many of us have to do it alone, with the whole family resting on just one or two adults - which we've taught people is enough but it really isn't.

And then come more lies; about Balance and Perfection and the Woman Who Does It All. The truth is that perfection doesn't exist; balance - where you give evenly to every part of your life - is impossible; and only each individual woman gets to choose what part of the ALL she really wants.

I believe in seasons. I'm thick into the season of small children and it is chaos and intense and incredible and exhausting.

But you know what? This too shall pass. And as cliché and bullshit as that sounds, it is heart-achingly true.

One day we'll all be sitting in our tidy houses, drinking endless cups of hot tea and nibbling on chocolate whenever we want because there won't be any little hands reaching out and screaming for a piece.

We'll use the toilet in peace and there'll be no one in the back of the car asking for a snack every two minutes. But there also won't be cuddles and tears to dry and little people to tuck into bed at night. There won't be dandelions gifted to us in chubby toddler fists, and proud faces going down the slippery slide. There won't be calls of mama in the middle of the night, and notes saying 'I love you mummy' randomly placed on your desk. There won't be little ones in your home. They'll be grown. And while I'm sure that season will be full of its own challenges and rewards it won't be like this one.

This season is our NOW. This is our reality, and however we choose to use this time, let's remember it doesn't last forever. And one day it will be a memory that we'll miss. It's the brutal truth of this season that we're almost too exhausted to appreciate it.

But we can choose to see the JOY, when it happens. We can choose to breathe those moments in, and see them for what they are. And we can choose to feel proud of raising the next generation of people that will one day walk out of our home into one of their own.

This is worthwhile work mamas; this is important. You are enough in all your human, messy, glory. You are ENOUGH.

Want to save for later or share with a friend?

Click the social icons to share this photo on Pinterest or Facebook.

Andrea Sunshine

Blogger

Andrea is a free-spirited, unschooling, conscious parenting mum of three from Queensland who is actively and intentionally choosing joy in her everyday and encouraging others to do the same. She blogs at andreasunshine.com